By Erin Place
NORWAY—What Norway teen Jack Gentempo didn’t realize was that his home video footage from the last four or so years would prove valuable for skits and fillers for his new TV show, “Maine Street Adventures,” set to air tonight on the local cable access station.
The wheels for this project began turning last year when the now 17-year-old participated in an internship with Norway Paris Community TV. While working at the local TV station, Gentempo created and shot a number of skits to enter into video contests. Station Manager Steve Galvin told the young funny man he technically should make something for the station, Gentempo says.
“Steve suggested a full season of the show,” he says as he sits on his family’s front porch on the edge of downtown Norway on Friday. “I thought, ‘Why not produce a whole show?’ … It was not a very hard negotiation.”
“Maine Street Adventures” will kick off its first episode at 9 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Oct. 2, on Time Warner Channel 11. For those who can’t wait or don’t have cable, the show will stream from its Facebook page at 7 p.m. at www.facebook.com/pages/Maine-Street-Adventures/1652916581600950. The show will air weekly on Thursday nights.
Gentempo says his show consists of homemade videos that are made more professionally. Some of the skits include a local TV chef called “The Delicious Low Dishes Cooking Hour,” “Law and Disorder,” which follows criminals whose crimes are solved by using puns, a character named Eugene who wants to go on MTV’s “Made” reality TV show to become a gangster, and an exercise class to “Watership Down.”
“I had all these ideas in my head. I would tell my mom these—and I can’t blame her—but she would say, ‘That’s not going to be practical.’ … It was good to keep the options open because now that I have a TV show, all these things are becoming real at least in a skit form,” Gentempo says. “I guess always keep your creativity open, even if it seems ridiculous to start.”
While “Maine Street Adventures” is a sketch comedy, it does have a loose plot line—one ripped straight from Gentempo’s life: A kid who lives in Maine “takes his home movies to the next level” by landing a gig at a local TV station where he can shoot and edit them in a more professional manner.
Gentempo, who’s the youngest of four, says his sisters liked to make videos with their friends and he began using a low-quality video camera to create his own with his family and friends at 13. Two of his favorite things as a kid were comedy and building things. He didn’t realize all the activities he enjoyed doing growing up—building things in the yard like a giant windmill and snow sculptures, creating backdrops and homemade props, and goofing off in general—would give him ammunition for his show. A lot of his old family footage is now used as buffers in between skits, and some of the videos he created for roughly 50 contests are now being used as part of his weekly show.
Gentempo’s first contest success was with a Dr. Pepper video—he came in ninth out of 10 winning places. He later won a contest for a six second video he made about how he wakes up in the morning for McDonald’s. Gentempo discovered there’s websites out there dedicated to listing all the video contests available. He’s tapped into those, even though he admits “there’s a lot not winning,” but it does give him extra footage for his show.
He’s also utilizing YouTube and is still amazed at how many things one can figure out how to do online. He references making a cardboard propeller on a motor to create a cheap version of a plane, which also helps simulate wind, for a sketch involving Capt. Jack Sparrow of “Pirates of the Caribbean” fame. Gentempo also turned to YouTube to figure out how to ride a unicycle and a much taller giraffe unicycle that are used in the show.
“The coolest thing about it is you can get into a parade without signing up,” he says.
Gentempo jokes that the title of show came to him in a dream.
“We wanted to involve the name of the state but also not [be] too obvious either,” he says, adding the adventures portion came from his original idea of creating a parody travel show based on Jack Hannah, but later realizing he could be more creative by not pegging himself into a specific type of show.
One thing he’s not joking about is the support and help he’s received from his family and local business owners in shooting the show. He adds he can’t name the businesses featured since the owners asked not be named.
Gentempo’s older sisters Nettie and Hannah Gentempo, along with his older brother, Joe Gentempo, appear throughout the show. His father, Joe Gentempo, recorded the theme song for “Maine Street Adventures” and his other music is used in a number of episodes. Even his mom, Jennifer McMahon, sparked this whole thing by suggesting he do an internship at the TV station.
“It’s a family circus,” Jack Gentempo says, laughing.